Thu 23 Mar 2006
How do I learn about new music these days? Aside from the fact that Dallas radio absolutely stinks (unless you’re a country fan, I guess), I almost never listen anyway. My most frequent radio-listening spot used to be in the car on the way to work, but since I almost always work from home, that no longer happens. And forget MTV for music.
The new music I’ve been turned on to for the last couple of years has come from two places: Video games and Saturday Night Live. Back in 2000, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 set the standard with what I think is still the best soundtrack ever for a video game. Since then, I’ve discovered lots of new artists via video games. These days, racing games like Burnout 3 and Burnout: Revenge have turned me on to the following artists:
- Franz Ferdinand - There are at least 3 excellent songs on their self-titled CD, and several other good ones.
- The Von Bondies - Maybe a one-hit wonder, but man, I sure dig that hit: C’Mon C’Mon.
- My Chemical Romance - “I’m Not Okay” is the song that was actually in the game. “Ghost of You” is a better song, and has an excellent video.
- Motion City Soundtrack - I liked about 2/3 of “My Favorite Accident” on Burnout 3, but “The Future Freaks Me Out” is fun all the way through.
- CKY - I already knew about “Camp Kill Yourself” via Bam Margera and his Jackass theme “Quiet Bitter Being”. When I heard “As The Tables Turn” on Burnout: Revenge, I listened to it 5 times in a row.
More recently, several of SNL’s musical guests have caught my attention. Here’s a list from this season:
- Franz Ferdinand - I was already a fan and it was neat to see them live.
- Korn - Interesting performance (and interesting microphone stand), but it didn’t actually make me seek out any of their new music.
- James Blunt - Pretty good. I guess I can see what the hype is about.
- Shakira - Holy Smokes! I’ll just keep quiet in case Michelle reads this.
- Death Cab For Cutie - These guys came out of nowhere from my perspective (I’ve since learned they’ve been around forever). Their album “Plans” went straight onto my Top 10 list. 10 of the 11 songs on that CD are great. It is safe to say that I am a super-fan of these guys.
- Prince - Obviously not a new artist, but his performance of his new song “Fury” blew me away. I’d forgotten what a guitar wizard he is. I can’t bring myself to delete this episode from my PVR because I watch that one song so often.
- Fall Out Boy - Holly and Andrew had already turned me on to these guys’ hits “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “Dance, Dance”. This is a fun band and I think they’d be pretty good live, but it seemed like they were having technical difficulties (audio levels) on the show.
- Arctic Monkeys - I’d never heard of them before they were announced as SNL musical guests. Now I’ve listened to “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not” over and over again. By far the coolest bass grooves I’ve heard in a while! These guys have knocked DCFC off the top of my “currently playing” list. Back to SNL: At first I didn’t know if I’d fast-forward past their songs or not. The first song “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” held my attention, then their second song “A Certain Romance” knocked my socks off and got stuck in my head for a solid week. This performance was notable also because at one point the lead singer pointed at someone in the audience and shouted “That man just yawned!” Google that to see what kind of Internet reaction it caused.
I should also mention the oddest place I’ve found a new song lately: An Olympic figure skater’s performace music. A Japanese skater skated to a song so mesmerizing that I had to seek it out. It was incredibly tough to find. We thought it seemed like something out of a Miyazaki movie, but I finally learned that it was from a 1983 Japanese war movie called “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.” I found a surprisingly good MIDI version you can listen to by clicking here.